Florida May Require GPS Correction Collars For Deer And Hog Dogs

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At the December 2019 meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioners approved draft rule changes for 2020-2021 related to FWC-managed areas and hunting. Proposed rule changes will be considered for final adoption at the February 2020 Commission meeting.

One new proposal would require all hunters who use dogs to hunt for deer, hog, fox or coyote to equip their dogs with GPS and correction collars. According to the draft regs, “The proposed rule amendment would require that all free running dogs used for pursuing deer, wild hog, fox or coyote must be equipped and monitored with devices that allow remote tracking (Global Positioning System – GPS or telemetry) and behavior correction.”

GPS collars have become fairly common for many deer-doggers who want to be able to round up often-valuable dogs quickly and easily. The behavior-correction feature of collars allows handlers to ‘buzz’ a dog and send a tone when they get near property boundaries or areas off-limits to hunting with dogs.

The draft rule-change for hunting dogs reads:

Hunting Dogs; Molesting Game in Closed Season; Training; Field Trials; Prohibited for Certain Hunting – The proposed rule amendment would require that all free running dogs used for pursuing deer, wild hog, fox or coyote (except for dogs used to pursue fox or coyote during sanctioned mounted field trial events) must be equipped and monitored with devices that allow remote tracking (Global Positioning System-GPS or telemetry) and behavior correction. The device(s) must be attached by a collar or similar means and must be used to prevent dog egress into unauthorized areas. Removing, tampering, or otherwise interfering with any collar or tag (including remote tracking devices and behavior correction collars) of a dog used for hunting without the owner’s permission is prohibited. The tracking device requirement in this rule would not take effect until July 1, 2021 and the correction device requirement in this rule would not take effect until July 1, 2022.

Currently, Florida requires registration of all deer dogs, a process that requires the hunter to include specific maps and descriptions of properties that will be hunted with deer dogs. All dogs used for hunting deer on the property identified in the registration must have the entire Registration Number legibly displayed on the collar of the dog or on an attachment to the collar of the dog.

Other proposed rules are specific to public hunting areas. According to FWC, “Most notable proposed rule changes include establishing a new wildlife management area in Marion County, new public hunting opportunities in nearly all regions of the state, and expanded opportunities for families to recreate together on specific wildlife management areas by letting an additional non-hunting family member or guest attend established family and youth hunts.”

Draft rule-change proposals are based on requests from staff, cooperators and stakeholders. The FWC seeks input on proposed changes throughout the rule-making process to achieve regulations based in hunter preference and sound science to ensure sustainability.

The following proposals will remain available for public comment through the February, 2020 Commission meeting. If you haven’t shared your feedback, please do so by using the FWC’s online commenting tool.

Statewide

General Methods of Taking Game and Crows; Prohibitions – The proposed rule amendment would clarify existing restrictions related to the use of semi-automatic rifles for hunting game and for the use of shotguns for hunting migratory game.

Babcock Ranch Preserve Area

The proposed rule amendments would revise or establish specific area regulations on miscellaneous areas as follows:

Babcock Ranch Preserve Tier I – during the family hunt allow 1 additional adult supervisor that may participate in the hunt to assist the youth hunters but may not harvest game.

Babcock Ranch Preserve Tier II – allow wild turkey to be hunted during muzzleloading gun and crossbow seasons and when general gun season overlaps with Zone A fall turkey season.

WMA Regulations Southwest Region

Revise specific area regulations on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in the Southwest Region as follows:

Chassahowitzka WMA – remove reference to Swamp Grade when describing the dog hunt area, this road no longer exists; and allow wild turkey to be hunted in the Annuteliga Hammock (the area east of US Highway 19) during spring turkey season.

Green Swamp West WMA – change allowed vehicle access times on the day preceding special opportunity spring turkey season hunts (scout day) from 1 1/2 hours before sunrise until 1 1/2 hours after sunset to 1 1/2 hours before sunrise until 3:00 p.m.

KICCO WMA – allow 1 additional non-hunting guest on family and youth turkey hunts.

Hilochee WMA – expand small game season by 7 days (from 17 to 24 days) at the beginning of the season; and establish a 3-day general gun hunt opening the Saturday following the close of muzzleloading gun season (10 no-cost quota permits, no exemptions).

Hilochee WMA, Osprey Unit – establish a 3-day general gun hunt opening the Saturday following the close of muzzleloading gun season (10 no-cost quota permits, no exemptions).

Upper Hillsborough WMA – change the quota hunt for wild hog-dog from 20, no cost, quota permits (no exemptions) to 20, no-cost, daily quota permits available first-come, first-served at the check station each day of the season.

WMA Regulations North Central Region

Revise specific area regulations on wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the North Central Region as follows:

Bayard WMA – allow each youth turkey quota permit holder to bring 1 additional non-hunting guest; and allow the youth turkey non-hunting guest to camp in Area 3 with the youth turkey quota permit holder.

Big Shoals WMA – allow the use of dogs to hunt small game during small game season.

Camp Blanding WMA – change the general gun dog hunt from two 9-day hunts (320 no-cost quota permits each hunt, exemptions allowed) to one 10-day and one 11-day hunt (200 no-cost quota permits, exemptions allowed); during the wild hog-dog season allow hunting only from 1½ hours after sunset until 1½ hours before sunrise, and shift the January wild hog-dog season hunt to occur following the close of zonal deer season; and allow scouting the day before each youth spring turkey hunt.

Gulf Hammock WMA – allow nighttime raccoon hunting with the use of dogs during small game season.

Hatchet Creek WMA – allow each family and youth turkey quota permit holder to bring 1 additional non-hunting guest.

Holton Creek WMA – move the last (December) general gun mobility-impaired hunt to the 3rd weekend in November.

Mallory Swamp WMA – remove the shoulder height requirement for hunting dogs.

Raiford WMA – allow access year-round for fishing through designated entrances.

Thomas Creek WMA, Kings Road Unit – allow each family and youth turkey quota permit holder to bring 1 additional non-hunting guest.

Troy Springs WMA – establish a spring turkey season with three 3-day hunts (no quota permit required, Friday-Sunday).

Twin Rivers WMA – remove the zone tag requirement during the family hunt.

WMA Regulations Northwest Region

Revise specific area regulations on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in the Northwest Region as follows:

Aucilla WMA – shift the September wild hog-dog hunt to occur the first weekend in September (1 week earlier) to avoid overlapping the opening weekend of archery season.

Blackwater WMA – allow dogs to be used for hunting deer in the dog hunt area during the 2-day family hunt; require that all free-running dogs used to pursue deer, fox or coyote anywhere within Blackwater WMA must be equipped and monitored with devices that allow remote tracking (Global Positioning System (GPS) or telemetry) and behavior correction; allow any dog for hunting small game (quail, rabbit, squirrel and migratory game) during small game season.

Eglin WMA – limit shooting hours during spring turkey season to ½ hour before sunrise until 1 p.m.; increase antler point regulation for harvesting antlered deer in Jackson and Brier Creek units to at least 4-points on one side or a 14-inch main beam; and allow northern bobwhite quail to be released and taken by shotgun during the small game season (Sikes and Choctaw units only). A daily no-cost permit and proof that that the northern bobwhite quail were purchased from a licensed game farm would be required for each individual or group participating.

Escambia River WMA – establish one 2-day family deer dog hunt to occur the last weekend in December (within the Dog Hunt Area only).

Plank Road WMA – increase antler point regulation for harvesting antlered deer to at least 3-points on one side or a 10-inch main beam; and establish one 3-day wild hog-still hunt each month from May through September.

Perdido River WMA – prohibit motor vehicle access on Frank Reeder Loop Road from May through September.

WMA Regulations South Region

Revise specific area regulations on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in the South Region as follows:

Allapattah Flats WMA – allow harvested deer to be dismembered before leaving the area.

Big Cypress WMA – establish that hunters must check in and out when entering and leaving the area and check all harvested game when check stations are staffed.

Everglades and Francis S. Taylor WMA – remove bag limit and 15-inch shoulder height restriction for hunting wild hog.

Holey Land WMA – remove bag limit and 15-inch shoulder height restriction for hunting wild hog.

J.W. Corbett WMA – establish that tree stands, deer stands, and elevated shooting platforms may only be brought onto the area beginning 6 a.m. the day prior to archery season and must be removed no later than 6 p.m. the day following the close of general gun season; and during the August closure, allow campers to line up at an interior gate beginning 5 p.m. the Wednesday prior to the start of archery season.

Picayune Strand WMA – increase the wild hog bag limit to 1 per person but no more than 2 per quota permit during muzzleloading gun and general gun seasons, remove 15-inch shoulder height restriction for hunting wild hog.

Rotenberger WMA – remove bag limit and 15-inch shoulder height restriction for hunting wild hog.

WMA Regulations Northeast Region

Revise specific area regulations on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in the Northeast Region as follows:

Charles H. Bronson WMA – allow each youth turkey quota permit holder to bring 1 additional non-hunting guest.

Little Big Econ WMA – allow each youth turkey quota permit holder to bring 1 additional non-hunting guest.

Richloam WMA – allow limited fishing (hook and line only) in designated areas at the fish hatchery.

Little Big Econ WMA – restrict vehicular access during scouting days and hunting seasons to 1 1/2 hours before sunrise until 1 1/2 hours after sunset.

Seminole Forest WMA – prohibit public access during the mobility-impaired hunts except for individuals participating in the hunts, their assistants and through-hikers on the Florida National Scenic Trail.

Seminole Forest WMALake Tracy Unit – allow each youth turkey quota permit holder to bring 1 additional non-hunting guest.

Silver Springs Forest WMA – establish open seasons and regulations for a new WMA (4,900 acres) in Marion County as follows: one 16-day archery hunt (20 no-cost quota permits, no exemptions); one 3-day muzzleloading gun season (20 no-cost quota permits, no exemptions), one 9-day general gun hunt (quota of 20 no-cost quota permits, no exemptions); a 2-day youth turkey hunt (5 no-cost quota permits, no exemptions); two 4-day (Thurs – Sun) spring turkey hunts (5 no-cost quota permits, no exemptions); a small game season from the last weekend in November through the first weekend in January (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only, walk-in access only); each youth turkey quota permit holder may bring 1 additional non-hunting guest; fishing and frogging year round; allow the take of all legal game, wild turkey, fish, frogs and furbearers excluding bobcat and otter; prohibit the harvest of antlered deer not having at least one antler with three or more points or a 10-inch main beam; hunting wildlife with dogs, other than bird dogs or retrievers, is prohibited, except any dog may be used to take small game (quail, rabbit, squirrel and migratory game birds) during the small game season; allow the take of wild hogs during the small game season; allow access year round from 1.5 hours before sunrise until 1.5 hours after sunset; and allow vehicles only on designated roads, only during quota hunts and only for individuals participating in the hunt (and their guests).

Three Lakes WMA – allow wild hog to be taken during small game season.

Three Lakes WMA, Prairie Lakes Unit – allow wild hog to be taken during small game season.

Wildlife and Environmental Areas (WEAs)

Revise specific area regulations on Wildlife and Environmental Areas (WEAs) as follows:

North Central Region

Suwannee Ridge WEA – move the last (December) general gun mobility-impaired hunt to the third weekend in November.

South Region

John G. and Susan H. Dupuis Jr. – allow harvested wild hog to be dismembered before checking at the check station, and correct an error related to missing hunt dates for the existing April wild hog-still hunt.

If you haven’t shared your feedback, please do so now by using the FWC’s online commenting tool.